Category Archives: Hunting

Seeking ground less traveled: how elk respond to recreation

A female elk wearing a telemetry collar in the Starkey Experimental Forest and Range, Ore. The collar enabled scientists to track the animal’s movements in response to different types of recreation by volunteers wearing GPS units while riding all-terrain vehicles, mountain bikes, horses, or on foot. Courtesy photo by Leslie Naylor; Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, Department of Natural Resources.

Recreation on public land is increasingly popular in the Pacific Northwest. But recreation management requires balancing opportunities for people to enjoy the outdoors with mitigating the effects on wildlife and other natural resources.

Recreation and wildlife managers who are grappling with these issues asked scientists to quantify the impacts of motorized and non-motorized recreation on elk.

In Science Findings # 219, the USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Research Station explores recent research in Oregon that sought to measure how elk respond to various human, and especially recreation-based, activities.

Elk are highly valued for hunting and viewing by the public. As large herbivores, they also play a critical role in many ecosystems of the Intermountain West.

A large fenced area within the Starkey Experimental Forest and Range in eastern Oregon provided a unique setting for assessing how a wide-ranging species like elk respond to four types of recreation.

Real-time data recorded by telemetry units worn by people and elk alike allowed scientists to establish a cause-effect relationship between human movements and activities and elk responses.

Scientists found that elk avoided areas where humans were recreating. All-terrain vehicle use was most disruptive human-initiated activity, followed by mountain biking, hiking, and horseback riding.

When exposed to these activities, elk spent more time moving rather than feeding and resting.

The findings build on earlier studies, which suggested that frequent disruptions and movement to avoid human contact increase mortality rates for newborn elk.

Researchers also found that such disruptions effectively reduce the total amount of usable habitat available for elk herds.

Land managers can use this information to assess trade-offs between multiple, and often competing, land uses. When combined with planning efforts that include stakeholder engagement, this research may offer a clearer path forward on balancing human and wildlife needs on National Forests and other public and privately-held lands.


Source information: Science Findings is published monthly by the USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Research Station. To search past issues, visit: https://www.fs.usda.gov/treesearch/.

Forest Service seeks Recreation Resource Advisory Committee members

View of Stairway and Accessible Ramp at Multnomah Falls on the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area

PORTLAND, Ore. — The USDA Forest Service is soliciting potential nominees as part of its effort to re-establish a Recreation Resource Advisory Committee (Recreation RAC) for the Pacific Northwest Region. The Recreation RAC will provide recommendations on recreation fees for Forest Service lands in Oregon and Washington.

Recreation RACs consist of 11 individual members, and an alternate for each, who represent the following balanced and broad interests:

  • Five people will represent recreation users who participate in activities such as summer and winter motorized and non-motorized recreation, hunting, and fishing;
  • Three people who represent, as appropriate, the following recreation interest groups: motorized and or non-motorized outfitting and guiding as well as environmental groups; and
  • Three people who represent state tourism, Indian tribes, and local government.

Public lands are a valuable part of our national identity and provide a wide range of benefits to Americans. Recreation fees, an investment in this legacy, help protect natural resources, expand educational opportunities, preserve our cultural heritage, and enhance recreation experiences for millions of users annually.

Recreation RACs are instrumental in establishing recreation fees on public lands and help improve the experience that visitors have on National Forest lands. Recreation RAC members provide recommendations to Forest Service officials on initiating, adjusting, or eliminating fees on National Forest-managed recreation sites.

“The Forest Service is proud to work alongside partners, volunteers, and local communities to provide world-class recreation opportunities across the Pacific Northwest” said Glenn Casamassa, Pacific Northwest Regional Forester. “In addition to making recommendations about recreation fees, the Recreation RAC will help us connect more people with their public lands and build a stronger stewardship ethic for the long-term, sustainable management of our recreation areas.”

Applicants will be recommended for appointment based on:

  • Ability to represent an interest group as required by the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act.
  • Ability to contribute to the committee.
  • Ability to work successfully in a collaborative group.
  • Ability to represent diverse or underrepresented groups.

All applicants must be United States citizens and at least 18 years old. People selected for positions will initially serve two or three-year terms and can apply to serve a subsequent three-year term. Recreation RAC members serve without pay but are reimbursed for travel and per diem expenses for regularly scheduled committee meetings, which occur at least once annually. All Recreation RAC meetings are open to the public and an open public forum is part of each meeting. Meeting dates and times will be determined by the Designated Federal Official in consultation with the Recreation RAC members when the committee is formed.

If you are interested in potentially serving on the Recreation RAC, please send your contact information via email to R6_Recreation_RAC@fs.fed.us or write us at USDA Forest Service, Attn: Recreation RAC; 1220 SW 3rd Ave., Suite 1700; Portland, OR 97204.

Please contact us by November 30, 2018 to express your interest.

Following the re-establishment of the Pacific Northwest RAC, all interested individuals who respond will receive further instructions regarding the application process and next steps.

For more information on the Pacific Northwest Recreation RAC, visit http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/r6/recreation/racs.

Forest Service releases new outfitter-guide finder

A hunter looks out over a lake from a cliff

Adventure-seekers in search of an expert guide for their next National Forest adventure in Washington and Oregon need look no further than the Pacific Northwest region’s new outfitter-guide locator.

The new, web-based tool allows visitors to quickly and easily search a directory of outfitters and guides with current operating permits by activity, or forest.

Outfitters and guides are great resources for National Forest visitors who want to try a new activity, improve their proficiency, or explore the back-country with the benefit of a guide who has first-hand knowledge of the area.

(Wondering what the difference is? Guides typically provide expert experience and knowledge, while outfitter-guides also provide some or all of the gear and equipment needed to enhance the outdoor experience. Both require a permit from the National Forest the activity will take place on, to help forest managers track commercial usage and to ensure favorite locations or resources aren’t being over-used).

Outfitter-guide permit holders on Pacific Northwest forests in Washington and Oregon include almost every outdoor activity you can think of, including hunting, fishing, camping, climbing, hiking, cycling, dog-sledding, horseback riding, kayaking, rafting, mountain biking, and even heli-skiing!

Looking for a guide to your next adventure on Your Northwest Forests?

Check out the Pacific Northwest region’s National Forest outfitter-guide finder at:
https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/r6/passes-permits/recreation/?cid=fseprd588624



Source information: USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region staff report

Fire safety for hunting season

A mule deer with large antler rack in a hay field on the Fremont-Winema National Forest in Oregon.

It may feel like fall, but just because temperatures are getting cooler doesn’t mean conditions aren’t still tinder-dry. With hunting season already underway in some places and rapidly approaching for others, USDA Forest Service land managers are asking hunters and other forest visitors remember that fire season is still underway – and that even past fires can present hazards long after their flames have been extinguished.

When hunting on public lands, remember:

  • Just because the weather is cooler doesn’t mean it isn’t dry enough for fires to start, and spread! Know before you go if there fire restrictions in effect.
  • If campfires are allowed, make sure your fire is dead out before leaving. Drown, stir, and drown again – if it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave!
  • Consider campfire alternatives, such as propane stoves.
  • Do not idle, drive or park on dry grass. Vehicle exhaust, or the hot metal on the undercarriage, could ignite the grass or brush beneath.
  • Do not flick cigarettes out vehicle windows. Extinguish smoking materials in an ashtray.
  • Check any chains you may be using on a trailer. Dragging metal on the roadbed can start a shower of sparks into dry vegetation causing a wildfire.
  • Report wildfires by calling 911.
  • Any time you are travelling in the woods, let someone know your planned route, destination and expected return time.

If you’re visiting an area recently burned by wildfire, use caution!

  • People intending to hike into, or near, the fire area should remain alert and aware of their surroundings at all times. Know the forcasted weather before entering the area, assess the weather conditions while in the area, and stay clear of burned trees. Don’t camp or hang out in the wildfire area.
  • Hazard trees or snags tend to pose the most immediate threat.  Dead or dying trees that remain standing after a wildfire are unstable, especially in high winds, and can lose heavy branches or fall at any time.
  • Look up! People are often more aware of obstacles on the ground but don’t often look up and around to assess danger.
  • Ash and fallen needles are slippery and can make for treacherous footing on trails.
  • Burned-out stump holes can make the ground weak and subject to failure. Be aware that ground can be unstable, due to burned-out roots beneath the surface.
  • Loose rocks and logs are unpredictable, and can down slope towards you or out from under you.
  • Burned vegetation can also contribute to landslides, mudslides and erosion when the rain returns. Badly burned ground is less absorbent than healthy forest soil. Flash floods and mud flows may occur.
  • Expect to encounter firefighter traffic, dusty roads, and smoke in some areas. Be aware, and be prepared for possible obstacles or closures related to firefighting activity. Be careful, for your safety and theirs.

Image of a target, icons, and text: Know Before You Go - Hunting and Shooting on Public Lands. Get a map: Know where you can hunt, check for any fire restrictions in effect. Make sure your fire is dead out: Drown stir, and drown again, then check for warmth. If it's too hot to touch, it's too hot to leave. Check the weather: Avoid fires on hot, dry and windy days. Watch for fire danger ratings and ref flag warnings. Place targets away from dry grass, and do not use targets on trees. Consider an indoor range for target practice on hot days. If you see a fire, call 911 to report its location, what is in danger, and stay on the phone until help arrives. Thank you for your help in preventing wildfires!

Know Before You Go – Hunting and Shooting on Public Lands. Get a map: Know where you can hunt, check for any fire restrictions in effect. Make sure your fire is dead out: Drown stir, and drown again, then check for warmth. If it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave. Check the weather: Avoid fires on hot, dry and windy days. Watch for fire danger ratings and ref flag warnings. Place targets away from dry grass, and do not use targets on trees. Consider an indoor range for target practice on hot days. If you see a fire, call 911 to report its location, what is in danger, and stay on the phone until help arrives. Thank you for your help in preventing wildfires!